Peninsula Essence June 2020

Page 46

History

St Mark's Anglican Church Dromana By Keryn Rivett

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estled between a three-storey apartment block and a busy shopping plaza is a little, limestone church, dwarfed by its modern neighbours. When these places were built it was feared the little church would all but disappear in the shadows of these giants, but the contrast of the buildings around it just emphasises the pioneering charm of St Mark's Anglican Church Dromana.

In the 1870's, the fledgling community’s worship services were held on the foreshore amongst the banksia opposite Mrs Warren’s confectionery shops and tearooms, but it was soon decided that the township needed a more formal place of worship. In 1877 a meeting was held in Rudduck's Store and it was decided that a church would be built for all denominations to use; attending this historic meeting were Mr H Robinson, Messers Barnett, Snell, N. Dyson, Burns, Boag, Ninnes, W. Gibson, A Gibson and J Gibson, J Cairns, G Henderson and N Rudduck. After many places were considered, a site was chosen and plans drawn up, but over the ensuring few months this attempt failed through lack of interest. Other attempts also failed due to dissention amongst the many strong personalities resulting in resignations and replacements. In the end it took thirty-nine months and many hurdles to finally complete this ‘unified’ church. It was decided that the Church of England and the Presbyterians would take turnabout on alternative

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Sundays. However, it seems harmony was never quite achieved and arguments ensued over various issues like the care and maintenance of the lamps and the position of the organ! Dissension just got worse and by 1886 the relationship had broken down irretrievably and, after more resignations, only two men remained. George McLear (1840-1918), born in Campbelltown, New South Wales of Irish parents represented the Church of England and Walter Gibson (1829-1916), born in Scotland, represented the Presbyterians; both men were notorious for thwarting each other and it appears they simply wore everyone else down. McLear was known for his rigidity when it came to rules and Gibson would not compromise - one man wanted to sell the church, whereas the other wanted to keep it and neither of them would budge. Family dinners must have been interesting because Walter Gibson's son Adam was married to George McLear's sister Mary Ann! All appeared helpless and for the ensuring four years a deadlock remained. How were they to break this impasse and come to a decision as to what was going to happen to the church? Peace came in the shape of a store owner in 1891 when it was discovered that Nelson Rudduck, a Londoner (1849-1935), may have resigned as a trustee but, his name was never removed from the trustee’s list. Rudduck stepped back in as an Independent, broke the deadlock and the sale of the church finally went ahead. This original interdominational